I've mentioned the painting series that I'm working on and that's the reason I started researching what happens in adoption world. I actually started the series just because it was something I felt compelled to do. I don't know how many of you are artists but sometimes you get a notion about something and you just have to follow through. I think in this case it began as a way to continue my healing. I've been reunited with my daughter for 8 years now and it's been wonderful. I'm thankful every day that I have her back in my life. I spoke to her today as a matter of fact, and I just love hearing her voice. Knowing that I can call her any time I want and hear her laugh makes life grand. It's sad to me that many reunions don't go this way. I wish we were not the exception but the rule.
Anyway, back to the point..... this series began because I felt like I needed to do this for my own healing. Although I had been through 22 years of living and learning how to cope with losing my daughter, and 8 years of reunion, there was still something more to do. In my artwork I was feeling a little stagnant. As artists we need to change and grow over time. We need to try new things. Over the years our style may change, our subject matter may change. Lots can happen as we change with age. In this case I was feeling the need for a deeper content to the work. I needed to do something with more meaning for me. I had already started a series on women and body image and I'm continuing to work on that but this was a feeling brewing inside that had to do with adoption.
These 2 topics are huge in my life - art and adoption. I'm an artist and I survived adoption. It was time to put the 2 together. Although I've lived with being a first mother from a closed adoption for 30 years, that doesn't mean I know everything there is to know about it. I started to read, google and research what was out there. I ordered books like Ann Fessler's The Girls Who Went Away and others and what I found out was that I wasn't alone. I've learned a lot and have tons more to learn. I've met so many wonderful women out there who have walked in my shoes and understand. I've become active in speaking out about the injustices of this industry and I've realized that I need to paint this series. It's a need, a compulsion.
I'll share the artwork about this topic on this blog as I do on my other blog This particular piece started with the idea of birthdays (obviously) because birthdays are such a huge thing in our first mother world. These are the days that are the most difficult. They were for me anyway. Every year there's the reminder of what's lost. As a mom I spent it wondering how she was, what she was doing, where she was celebrating, wondering what she got for presents each year. Did she have a party? Did her family think of me at all? How big is she now? Is she okay and happy? How is she liking school? There's just so many questions and as a first mother I wasn't entitled to any of the answers.
When my daughter turned 18 I baked a cake and with my other children we celebrated her birthday. This birthday kicked off the official search for her. As a good little first mommy I didn't try to look sooner because I was told that it wouldn't be good to interfere with her life. So, 18 was the magic age when I could begin the search. Singing the birthday song to a child I had never met was a surreal experience. I could barely get the words out because of the lump in my throat but I knew that this was the beginning. It took 4 years to find her.
In the background of the painting you can see names and dates. These are the names of first mothers and the dates that their children were born. Some are found, some are not. This piece represents not only me and my daughter but all the first mothers who think about their children on their birthday. So.... that would be all of them. There's not a mother on earth who doesn't think about her child on the day of that child's birth.
Happy Birthday to all of you, from all of us first moms. We love you.